Tonight: the Beginning of the End?

Blood Moons Ray ComfortRemember John Hagee’s hysterical fulminations about the upcoming “blood moons”? I wrote about that here. In brief, four Jewish holidays in a row (two Passovers and two Sukkots) will have lunar eclipses. Eclipses during any one of these is common, but four in a row are rare, and Hagee makes an enthusiastic but weak argument that important things happen to Israel during each of these periods of four blood moons.

The first of these lunar eclipses is tonight. Barring poor weather, it will be visible in North America (the eclipse will be total 12:08–1:23 am in Seattle). But no, Israel won’t be able to see this or the remaining blood moons. You’d think that would be required since Israel’s wellbeing is the focus of Hagee’s prophecy. I guess John Hagee works in mysterious ways.

He says about these celestial fireworks, “God is literally screaming at the world, ‘I’m coming soon.’” Let’s see if tonight’s eclipse is God’s calling card.

Time to bring in another expert

End times prediction is strangely attractive to some apologists (I’ve written more here). It’s a shiny thing to a baby. Ray Comfort couldn’t help using his annoyance at the recent Noah movie as a grandstanding opportunity to make his own movie about our own imminent end, and it has that je ne sais quoi that only Ray Comfort can provide. Or maybe it’s WTF.

Ray gives ten New Testament passages that make clear that we’re in the end times. “The end of the age is happening now,” he says. Let’s take a look to see if we can see it as clearly as Ray can.

He begins with 2 Peter 2:1–3:

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

Yes, there are lots of false prophets in our time—Hal Lindsey vaguely predicted the end in 2000, Harold Camping in 2011, Ronald Weinland in 2013, and there were others. But don’t imagine that naively idiotic prophecies are a recent thing. There’s the Great Disappointment of 1844. And the many failed predictions by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is no sign of the end. These Christian doomsday prophets have always been with us.

And now Ray Comfort is yet another prophet. Give us a specific date, Ray, so we know when to add you to the false prophets list. But be careful: this passage says that God will judge these liars like he judged the wicked people he drowned in the Flood.

On to Ray’s next verse of what to look for in the end times:

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. (Matt. 24:7)

Yes, there are wars, but no more now than in the past. The incidence of famine and pestilence is far less today (no thanks to Christianity), and science is helping predict earthquakes and make cities more resilient. This argues against Ray’s claim.

The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. (Acts 2:20)

Consider the context of this verse. The disciples were gathered for the feast of Pentecost, shortly after Jesus had returned to heaven, and the Holy Spirit descended on them. They all spoke in tongues, and passersby marveled that they could hear God praised in their own language. Peter explained that this was a fulfillment of a prophecy from Joel (the verse above is Peter quoting Joel).

Now consider the entire quotation (2:17–21). Joel was listing what will happen in the last days, and Peter said that this visitation of the Holy Spirit indicated that Joel’s symptoms of the end were happening at that moment. Yes, the sun will turn to darkness and the moon to blood, but it will happen in the time of Peter and the apostles.

Another fail, Ray. You’ve really got to read these things more carefully.

There will be terrible times in the last days. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers … (2 Timothy 3:1–2)

Ray’s focus here is naughty words used in movies. I’ll grant that there are more R-rated movies now than centuries ago, but this seems a tiny point to put in a Top Ten list.

It was the same in the days of Lot. … But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:28–30)

Ray interprets this as an increase in the acceptance of (shudder!) homosexuality.

You know you live in strange times when the atheist has to explain to the Christian what Bible passages mean. No, Ray, that’s not what we’re talking about here. The point is suddenness. The wicked people during Noah’s time were going about life as usual and were caught unawares by the Flood. The people in Sodom were surprised by the hail of destruction. The section continues with admonitions against going back to your house for your stuff when the end comes—just run for safety.

Yes, we’re more accepting of homosexuality. No, that’s not what this passage is about.

Let’s finish up Ray Comfort’s Kant-Fail® Signs of the End tomorrow. If John Hagee is to be believed, however, it’s not clear that there will be a tomorrow …

Part 2.

I used to be Christian,
but then I thought about it.
— Anon.

Photo credit: S Vivek

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